The presidential election in Poland is too close to be called at the start of the vote | News from the world

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Voting is underway in the second round of the presidential election in Poland, which pits populist president Andrzej Duda against Warsaw’s liberal mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. The outcome will have a huge influence on the country’s future political trajectory, and polls suggest the outcome could go both ways.Duda is allied with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and a victory for him will give PiS control of most levers of power for several years, allowing him to pursue a program that has eroded the rule of law and Justice. independence, putting Poland on a collision course with the EU.

Duda’s campaign was filled with homophobic rhetoric, as he made the fight against the so-called “LGBT ideology” one of his main topics of discussion.

If Trzaskowski wins, he could use the presidential veto to thwart the PiS legislative agenda, as well as to present a more liberal and pro-EU face of Poland to the outside world.

The two 48-year-old men emerged from the first round of 11 candidates, all men. Duda won 43.5% of the vote while Trzaskowski obtained 30.5%, but the challenger is expected to win more votes that were originally allocated to other candidates, which could lead to a tight second round. The most recent polls put the two at one percentage point apart, well within the margin of error.

The race is so close that small margins could be decisive. Some fear that many Poles living abroad may not have been able to vote because the ballots arrived too late. In the first round, Trzaskowski won 48.1% of the votes cast by the Poles abroad, while Duda obtained 20.9%.

Trzaskowski said this is the last chance to reverse the democratic setback that has taken place in the past five years of the PiS government. “It’s now or never,” he said earlier this week. The ruling party “will continue to destroy independent institutions, seek to further politicize the courts, destroy local governments and threaten media freedom, or we will have a democratic state in which the president restores balance,” he said. declared.

Duda described himself as a president who improved the country’s economy as well as an advocate for “family values” at the expense of LGBT rights. PiS has combined right-wing social and cultural policies with the increase in state cash disbursements in recent years, which has proven to be a winning combination in small towns and villages.

“This election will decide the development of Poland in the future, if it continues on the path of development,” said Duda earlier this week.

The election was to take place in May, when Duda was leading the election and was expected to win easily. However, with the coronavirus restrictions in place, plans for a fully postal vote were abandoned by the government a few days before the election as impossible to implement. Instead, a new date has been set for the end of June.

Poland has experienced 37,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,600 deaths, but restrictions have been largely relaxed in recent weeks with the reopening of bars and restaurants. Voters will wear masks and gloves and maintain social distance.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said this week that the coronavirus was “retreating” and urged everyone to vote, with people over the age of 60 saying they can vote without queuing.

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